Sultanah’s suit against Sarawak Report editor to proceed

(FMT) – Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown and two others will proceed, her lawyer Haaziq Pillay Abdullah said.

He said this follows judicial commissioner John Lee’s decision today to dismiss Rewcastle Brown’s application to stay the trial pending the disposal of her criminal proceedings.

“The judge said there was no merit in the application,” Haaziq said.

Lee also ordered Rewcastle Brown to pay the Sultanah of Terengganu RM5,000 in costs.

He said a case management would be held on April 4 to fix new trial dates for the civil case.

Lawyer Mervyn Lai, who appeared for Rewcastle Brown, also confirmed the outcome of today’s proceedings, which were conducted online.

Last November, Rewcastle Brown filed a motion to transfer and strike out a charge that she had committed criminal defamation against the sultanah.

She said the charge was filed in the Kuala Terengganu magistrates’ court over an identical article said to be the subject matter of the defamation action.

She said the charge must be quashed as it was done in bad faith, was malicious in nature, and an abuse of the court process and prosecutorial powers.

In 2018, Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed a RM300 million suit against Rewcastle Brown, publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and printer Vinlin Press and two others for allegedly defaming her in a book, ‘The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose’.

She said the alleged defamatory statement implied that she had interfered in Terengganu’s administration and had used her status to influence the establishment of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which later became 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

She alleged the statement also implied that she had helped Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, to become the adviser of TIA.

The defendants said they were relying on the defence of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege.